HQ Science Response to February 2, 1995 White Paper

To: Distribution
From: Chief Scientist and AAs for OSS, OLMSA, and OMTPE
Subject: HQ Science Response to February 2, 1995 White Paper

The White Paper that was released by an internal HQ Red Team on February 2, 1995 is comprised of two parts, a description of principles underlying the "NASA Reinvention Process" and a proposal called "A Budget Reduction Strategy." The latter was put forward "to stimulate radical thinking about the future of the Agency" and "is not a decision document." Some of the proposals set forth in the Strategy document represent significant changes for the NASA science enterprise, as it affects its internal purveyors and enablers of science and its university, industry, and other customers. Given the dramatic implications for the conduct of science at the NASA Centers, the particular relationship of NASA Science to the broader external community, and the fact that there were no scientists on the Red Team, we wished to formulate an HQ science response to the principles and recommendations of the White Paper.

We submit the following response in the spirit of reinvention, whose goal is to maximize that which is of unique value about the enterprise, and streamlining, whose goal is to achieve significant cost reductions through evaluation and strategic planning. Our response is generated in three sections: (I) The role of NASA in Science and the Role of Center scientists; (II) Comments on the principles outlined in "NASA Reinvention Process"; and (III) Response to proposals outlined in "A Budget Reduction Strategy." Section III contains alternative proposals for consideration in the Zero Base Review.

We acknowledge with appreciation the contributions of the NASA Centers to the science information base upon which we made our (necessarily preliminary) evaluations. This data base consists of a crosscut of the science workforce and data addressing, among other things, the roles of science support contractors and "others" in the crosscut, examples of Center-initiated multidisciplinary science efforts, and the utilization of Center science facilities.


I. The Role of NASA in Science and the Roles of Center Scientists

One slice of our science crosscut deploys the workforce by its approach to science. Research approach was categorized as being either fundamental or strategic, depending on whether the researcher could identify a priori his/her customer. Researchers in both categories were further characterized as doing either basic or applied research, the distinction being whether the research was driven towards basic understanding or towards a tangible product. The result was a science R&D matrix with four elements: fundamental/basic, fundamental/applied, strategic/basic, and strategic/applied. The matrix, of course, is an imperfect construct, as is any formal approach that attempts to understand the inherently complex process by which scientific discovery and invention are made. Nevertheless, the exercise was helpful in understanding with greater insight the nature of the activities of our science researchers. It is also helpful in understanding NASA's science enterprises in the context of the current national dialog about fundamental and strategic research.

The results of the science crosscut show that NASA's researchers contribute to all four elements of the R&D matrix, but predominate in the fundamental/applied and basic/strategic areas. This is appropriate as universities have a natural stake in the basic/fundamental area and industry in the applied/strategic area. NASA should foster the capabilities of this external workforce in pursuing its R&D strategy, maximizing its internal research workforce in the areas where the external world does not play so effectively in order to stimulate a response in kind from the extramural community. Thus we might expect, in an era of downsizing the internal workforce, that for some of NASA's science fields the balance of the populations inhabiting different elements of the matrix might shift increasingly towards fundamental/applied and basic/strategic.

One of NASA's major roles, we feel, is to be at the nexus of a four-element R&D matrix that includes the populations of both internal and external researchers. NASA should stimulate efficient linkage, or transfer, from the discoveries of fundamental research (that win Nobel prizes and rewrite textbooks) to strategic applications (that can drive markets). It should similarly use new applications, especially those in space technology and information science, to stimulate new basic research. Thus NASA's conduct should be to act as a 'flywheel' in this research matrix, with the goal of invigorating the connections between different scientific approaches. The expectation is that this will enhance the production of discoveries, ideas, and products. One of NASA's tasks should be to provide the strong link between science and technology stressed in Clinton-Gore "Science in the National Interest" policy paper.

Some of NASA's fundamental scientific research grew out of technologies and facilities developed at the Centers to support NASA programs. This research is often uniquely multidisciplinary in character (e.g., Ames work on response of mammalian gravity receptors to altered gravity is a marriage of Ames' computational fluid dynamics capability with its life sciences effort; Johnson's medical research to support human space flight and do basic research on disease and human response brings experts in cardiovascular, cardiopulmonary, and exercise physiology together with biochemists, musculoskeletal physiologists and radiation biologists; Kennedy's plant cell research on gravitropism, which grew from utilization of Biomass facility and goal of preserving unique ecology of Cape Canaveral's Wildlife Refuge, involves plant physiologists, microbiologists, and computer engineers). NASA researchers are in a unique position to capitalize on investments in facilities, and to utilize these as "seed" or innovative research projects that could develop into important new lines of inquiry (e.g., JPL's Microdevices laboratory was used to produce new technology of UV-responsive CCDs, an example of a facility enabling the invention of innovative technology that will lead to scientific discoveries in space as well as industrial applications; Lewis' reduced gravity facilities, like its "drop tower," enable the microgravity research of hundreds of PIs and students every year). [The final report of the Science Crosscut Team will contain numerous examples of new science begun at NASA Centers through interdisciplinary efforts.]

NASA's Center scientists ensure the maximum scientific return from the investigations of the external science community. They enable the research of external PIs by supporting their projects from development through launch and recovery and analysis of data (e.g., Shuttle payload support of 1500 PIs in past few years at Kennedy, also Marshall's Spacelab support; Johnson's biomedical research partners with local world-class medical institutions; JPL develops hardware concepts for planetary mission PIs; Lewis supports large numbers of microgravity PIs utilizing drop towers). In many cases one-on-one peer level interactions between Center scientists and external scientists are essential. Center scientists also facilitate the maximum extraction of science from the data with expert information systems and data archiving and distribution (e.g., JPL's Linked Windows Interactive Data System; Ames' world-class AI capability; Goddard's data archiving and distribution in both space and earth sciences).

One Center researcher summed up the service role of Center scientists; he wrote our team, "The uniqueness of microgravity as a research tool, the complexities and expense encountered in its use, and the relative naiveté of the external community in its value and potential all drive the need for the service oriented tasks performed by our in-house scientists. If NASA did not offer access to microgravity and our in-house scientists did not provide these services, I have no doubts that the vast and sometimes yet unrealized potential of microgravity science would be left unfulfilled."

Credibility of internal science expertise, both basic and applied, is important to provide maximum support for external guest investigators and to assure NASA's critical capacity to act as a "smart buyer". Our Centers have recognized that, in the words of one researcher, "the most effective Project Scientists are those who maintain peer-level credentials recognized by the external community. The professional skills needed to achieve this stature can only be acquired through personal research." Nearly all of this personal research is funded through peer review and is in response to NASA Research Announcements or Announcements of Opportunity. Thus, by definition, this research is directly related to NASA's goals. In fact, this research greatly enhances the value of NASA's Strategic Enterprises (e.g., the Aeronautics Enterprise is strengthened by Lewis Research Center's work on materials, combustion, and fluid dynamics, and by Langley's work on atmospheric chemistry).

The knowledge and scientific contributions of Center scientists enhance not only the quality of science and engineering overall, but also the reputation of NASA and the visibility of its accomplishments. This activity encourages young people to seek careers in sciences that have a mission focus and are closely coupled with technology.

Centers provide link to research in local and state communities (e.g. Ames information technologists partner with Silicon Valley companies; MSFC's Hydrology focus partners with Alabama universities and community; Caltech-JPL's "President's Fund" seeds innovative research with high risk and high return on investment -- example is Lee Hood's DNA sequencer, which has been commercialized; JSC brings the tie to the Texas Medical Center with transfer of medical technology for improving medical care; KSC through its research in CELSS has inspired the Epcott Center exhibits of future life in space colonies).

Center scientists facilitate the bulk of the Centers' educational efforts and involve local and state communities in these efforts; there are many example of exceptional educational efforts (e.g., LeRC's involvement with Ohio Aerospace Institute; JPL's KidSat).

It is the existence of Center scientists that allows NASA to bring in students and postdocs, helping to train science leadership for the future. This gives young researchers a view to strategic applications of basic research, a view not always possible in universities that have a strong focus on research for its own sake.

It is the existence of Center scientists which allows NASA to provide credible science outreach to the public, fostering Administration's goal of public communication of science and raising scientific literacy of public (visitor centers at many NASA Centers bring millions of folks in contact with value of activity in space).

Center scientists promote value of inspiration as important for the human spirit (e.g., visibility of JPL's planetary science missions and Goddard's astrophysics missions).

A more complete assessment of the new sciences originating at NASA Centers because of their unique "ecologies," the significant scientific milestones made by Center scientists, and the perspective of the various NASA Centers on the roles of its scientists will be given in the final report of the Science Crosscut Team.


II. Comments on Principles Outlined in "NASA Reinvention Process"

First, a few general observations about the NASA reinvention process. The Zero Base Review, as it is presently constructed, does not take into account the external world that interacts with the Agency; it is focused on internal NASA. True reinvention should look at the total assets, or "core capability" of the Agency. Core capability means all the talent NASA can bring to bear on the scientific and technical challenges it has accepted. This means that NASA should think of core capability as including providers of research that are outside of NASA's Centers. It means that NASA's first question should be not 'How do we get the Centers to do the work most efficiently and effectively?', but 'How do we get the work done most efficiently and effectively?'

NASA's science research program should be viewed as a national, not a Center, resource. We therefore recommend that once a set of science proposals for reinvention are sufficiently vetted internally these proposals be vigorously debated by the external community which is a resource provider and customer. A specific recommendation is that the NASA Advisory Council through its scientific subcommittees, i.e., the external scientific advisory committees to OLMSA, OMTPE, and OSS, should be asked to review the impact of streamlining proposals that affect the conduct of their cognizant science areas.

Second, the Zero Base Review is a top-down review. The ZB Review looks at form and function rather than at how to best achieve the goals of the enterprises. The strategy outlined in the White Paper attempts to simplify the form (e.g., designating Centers singular focuses) and streamline the functions (e.g., by eliminating perceived redundancies) without invoking long-range purpose and without recognizing how individual activities best thrive and contribute to national goals.

Addressing the principles of the "NASA Reinvention Process":

(1) We agree with the spirit of the principle of eliminating parallel redundant capabilities, but wish to recognize that redundant naming does not necessarily imply redundant capability. When looked at in detail the various types of science research done at the Centers are by and large not duplicated, although they may fall under a broad name category (e.g., Atmospheric Sciences; Planetary Sciences, and Advanced Life Support Research). For example, in the area of planetary science JPL, Johnson, and Ames all do very different aspects: Ames focuses on planetary biology, Johnson on planetary materials and samples, and JPL on planetary geophysics and atmospheres. For atmospheric sciences, Goddard's contribution is in the areas of physical climate science and stratospheric chemistry, while Langley's is in the areas of atmospheric radiation balance and tropospheric chemistry. In advanced life support research Johnson develops and evaluates complex advanced life support systems and JPL does advanced research on micromachines and sensors to contribute to life support technology for use in future systems.

Our impression is that the Foster Committee looked hard for redundant science research activities and found relatively little; the Committee did find, however, redundant functional engineering and operational tasks. Addressing one acknowledged area of overlap, we propose in Section III to focus our in-house capability for life support development and space suit development at Johnson and end this activity at Kennedy and over time at Ames.

(2) We agree that certain processes or operational responsibilities should be transferred to the private or educational sector where practicable. OSS is presently looking to have its suborbital program, launch services, and possibly its data distribution services (see below), managed in this way. OMTPE recommends (see below) that NOAA be considered for assuming the operation of EOSDIS. OLMSA is developing a plan to have its science and a portion of its technology program managed by an openly-competed, external-to-NASA, Space Station Engineering, Technology, and Science Institute. OLMSA has already established National Science Centers of Research and Training (NSCORTs) through a peer reviewed process in the U.S. and abroad. Cooperative agreements between Centers, local Universities (JSC and Texas Medical Center) and NIH have been formed. OLMSA is now developing with its partners a model for an Institute for Engineering, Technology, and Science Research to manage the Space Station research utilization and other microgravity and life sciences orbital programs.

(3) We respectfully submit that the activity (charter) of the PMC is inappropriate when viewed in light of the third operating principle, which advocates a higher level of integration responsibility and accountability for NASA contractors. Reporting to the PMC puts a lot of requirements on an ever-diminishing workforce and violates the spirit of this principle.

(4) We concur with the principle of privatization and commercialization and in Section III make various streamlining proposals based on this principle.

(5) Principle 5 addresses the need for regulatory modifications. We advocate a review of our reporting requirements to Congress, on the basis that this activity strains a drastically downsized workforce. We also advocate regular science customer surveys to be used as metrics in deciding how successful we are in realizing this principle.

(6) Our proposals in Section III are in the spirit of this principle, which is to transition to increased R&D and decreased operations.


III. Response to Proposals Outlined in "A Budget Reduction Strategy"

Note: In what follows our recommendations, requests, and alternative proposals are underlined for clarity.

1. Institutional proposal

We disagree with the institutional "either/or" framework that would designate NASA Centers as either aeronautics or space centers. (NASA would then become the National Aeronautics OR Space Administration!) We believe that the Centers could have primary, but not exclusive focuses. An R&D Agency that has centers with no core of basic and applied research, or which ignores half of its intellectual content in each of its centers, is not an R&D Agency; it is an amalgam of functional units, units that without science as a driver will move to mediocrity. The institutional concept outlined in this document is an intellectual straight jacket as a management device and intellectually bankrupt as a driver for the bold vision NASA holds dear. It ignores the historical fact that science and its applications proceed by the interplay of science and technology, by the congruence of disparate ideas, peoples, and facilities, and that discovery is enabled by an environment conducive to creating something that is greater than the sum of its parts.

On a smaller point, how can Ames be an "information center" if it is designated as an "aeronautics center"? If an information center for an R&D Agency with 5 Strategic Enterprises generates no intellectual foment, then it is totally functional and the service of the entire Center should be contracted out. If, on the other hand, it is a true information center, then it makes eminent sense for it to serve as a research gathering places for the generation of powerful new multidisciplinary ideas leading to new mission concepts.

2. JPL management model

The JPL-Caltech arrangement is a win-win for both institutions. Part of this may be due to its history. Caltech begot JPL; The 'child' took on the aspect of its 'parent.' In addition, the very high quality of Caltech insures that the standard of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be kept high. Clearly the success of a model in which a university manages a NASA Center must be related to the quality and enterprise content of the university partner. Assumptions about the cost of the JPL model have not been well documented. [Given the importance of this model to streamlining plans, we would like to see from Code B a cost breakdown of a fully-burdened Center civil servant versus a JPL employee.]

An NRO model, favored by some on the Foster Committee, excludes university scientists. It works well for a clearly defined product, but is not good for science. There is no underlying peer review process in this model. In what follows, we advocate for some Centers a JPL-like arrangement for the science activity, with specific recommendations concerning potential partners.


3. Evaluation of Suborbital program

We concur with the proposal to evaluate airplane-based science and applications and the sounding rocket programs. OSS is proceeding with a review of the latter. In collaboration with other NASA Codes, OLMSA is reviewing the use of aircraft for parabolic flight that enables research in both the life and microgravity sciences. Our understanding is that Dryden is leading an evaluation of the airplane-based science program, but that its focus is on the management of function, and not on a plan for the conduct of science research. We advocate strongly that the review of the airplane program must incorporate a plan that facilitates research, including the enabling of the external guest investigators that use the airplane instruments for research.


4. Education

The language concerning streamlining of the educational program is ambiguous and we would like clarification of the intent. We strongly support the continuation of support of graduate students through the present fellowship program.


5. General to all Centers

Our science crosscut data suggests the possibility that the relationship between civil service and contractor personnel can be manipulated, especially in cases where the civil servant becomes a patron for the personal research of the contractor. The working relationship between these two entities in the science domain needs to be examined, as it may be inappropriate. The results of such a review may lead to streamlining of on-site contractor researchers.

USRA supplies science and other contractor workforce for many of the Centers. Many of the programs associated with USRA are of value (e.g., the STEDI program, the visiting scientist program), but others may not be appropriate in an era of downsizing on-site activity. The NASA-USRA relationship should be reviewed with an eye to streamlining the numbers of on-site USRA persons.

The spirit of the IPA program needs to be preserved and, if possible, enhanced. IPAs are used extensively at NSF to constantly renew the organization and provide it the external perspective of its customers. We note that the IPA program is a corporate model, i.e., persons are rotated through corporate Headquarters to benefit the overall institutional health. With downsizing, especially at Headquarters, NASA needs the "short-term renewal policy" provided by IPAs, who can do many essential policy, peer review, education, and interface tasks that we will no longer have the civil service workforce to provide.

We agree that moving space science instrument development capability to Goddard and JPL would streamline the onsite science infrastructure. Center scientists not working at those installations would be able to propose as partners for instrument development that would be done externally (at a university or industry) or at GSFC or JPL.


Regarding the distribution of science activity among the Centers: For the reasons listed in Sections I and II, plus the clear record of scientific accomplishment by Center scientists (described in Center Reviews to Zero Base Team), we believe that nearly all the Centers should have a significant research core, and this core should be as broad as the numbers and capabilities of onsite researchers allow. This is way to maximize the synergy between all of NASA's enterprise and evolve revolutionary new technologies, concepts, approaches, and research. Science is at the root of all that NASA's does and NASA serves the country best when it enables its special capabilities to flower in revolutionary ways. We describe in item 6 below different science models for the different Centers. All models attempt to maximize the strengths of the particular Centers and the overall (external plus internal) strength of the science enterprises.

We propose that we begin now the transition to the International Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science Research. Once the Space Station is operational the science effort in support of Station and other OLMSA orbital research should be exported to this Institute, which should be sited external to NASA. The Institute will be linked electronically to a virtual community of external and internal scientists and will have close interaction with the Space Station program Office at JSC. JSC will continue to be responsible for crew training and medical/clinical activities and payload training.

All NASA science sites, including any institutes that may arise from restructuring, should be externally peer-reviewed for scientific vitality on a periodic basis, discipline-by-discipline. For example, a planetary science review team might review all of the planetary science activity at NASA, over all Centers where this activity is conducted.


6. Individual Centers

Ames

We have no objection, in principle, to moving the management of the aircraft to one location (Dryden), but we would like to see a cost analysis of this. We advocate a study of the impact of such a move (e.g., SOFIA, DC-8 and ER-2 operations) on the science customers. It is important to have a plan that enables the successful utilization of our aircraft for science, independent of the location of the aircraft. Central management of aircraft may not require central location of all aircraft. For the case of SOFIA, there needs to be a plan for the integration of the instruments and telescope during the build and operations phases. We do not know at this point if flight service can be done by a contractor; to some extent the plan for SOFIA would depend on what is done at Moffett field.

The centrifuge should not be transferred to Johnson at this stage of development since this will greatly impacting the schedule of the installation of the Space Station centrifuge. We therefore strongly recommend that this facility be kept at Ames at least until the completion of Phase C/D. Following that Phase, its management might be assigned to a Center or site that best coordinates the operation of the centrifuge with the Space Station Institute and the Space Station Program Office. Scientists at the site should have considerable experience in gravitational biological research concerning plants and animals. Such experience will be critical for development of methods to prevent microgravity-induced disabilities in humans and to creation of advanced life support systems.

Regarding Ames science: Ames has, per capita, one of the very strongest intellectual workforces among the NASA Centers. Perhaps because of the proximity of Stanford, UCB, and other institutions of higher learning and biotechnology and computer industries of the Silicon Valley, research at Ames has produced extremely high quality science efforts, most of which are interdisciplinary in nature.

The synergy between the science researchers and the aeronautics and information science efforts is strong and has produced new scientific endeavors. There is a strong case for leveraging aviation human factors expertise at Ames.

We believe that the in situ atmospheric science effort enhances the capabilities of aeronautics' goal of understanding the nature of the upper atmosphere and our possible impact on it.

Ames plays a key role in planetary biology (OSS) and, perhaps more than any other place in the world, has laid the intellectual steps for our next pioneering adventure in space.

Ames is the home of the best and most complete suite of centrifuges and other acceleration facilities in the world; this capability must be preserved. Ames should continue to play the lead role in gravitational biology. The management of life support (including CELSS) and EVA suit research and development should come to reside at JSC. Examination of the role of various academic and industrial resources in accomplishing the work of advanced technology development in these areas must be explored further before coming to closure on this issue. In order to maintain the most effective program, we recommend that Ames's role be limited to support of JSC in life support and space suit development. If the thermal control division of Ames closes then these efforts should be closed over time. This closure should be paced so that there is an appropriate transfer of technology and expertise to JSC.

To preserve and enhance a fertile, multidisciplinary research environment in NASA, we propose that the science efforts at Ames be aggregated and collocated in a science institute that is run by the University of California or Stanford. The University of California has a particularly attractive model in its multiply sited Institutes of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP). Joining this consortium would give Ames researchers more access to top scientists and students at, among other places, Scripps, Berkeley, UCLA, UC Riverside, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Santa Cruz, Lawrence Livermore Lab, and Los Alamos Lab. IGPP has an excellent science reputation, a peer-reviewed grant program, annual conferences, and exchanges of scientists and their students. The life sciences component must be managed in a manner that will facilitate transition to management by the Space Station Institute of Engineering, Technology, and Science Research.


Goddard Space Flight Center

The White Paper states that "Goddard Space Flight Center will be one of the two space and Earth science centers in the agency." We believe this should be stated as "Goddard Space Flight Center's primary function will be Earth and Space Science." This is consistent with our belief that for the vitality of NASA science, space and earth science should be done at more centers than Goddard and JPL. The White Paper also suggests that Goddard is responsible for "all other Earth orbiting space science spacecraft." We would delete "all" because JPL may do some of this, particularly in the Discovery and New Millennium missions. The White Paper says that EOSDIS should be "handed to the commercial sector to develop and privatize." We would like to leave open the possibility that NOAA may operate EOSDIS on the Goddard Center site. We propose that Columbia University is the right place to run GISS. The transfer of responsibility for TDRSS to JSC is appropriate as Johnson is the principal NASA user.

NOAA is interested in a closer relationship with NASA. NOAA hopes to construct a building on the Goddard campus housing 1200 NOAA employees (It would close down its Suitland and Silver Springs sites). NOAA presently runs a significant data distribution effort. By bring its functions onto the Goddard site and letting NOAA run, for example, EOSDIS, NASA could reduce a number of its DAACs, resulting in a cost savings. We propose that NASA and NOAA continue to discuss an integrated strategy for managing their combined enterprises.

Our science crosscut revealed a disproportionately large ratio of support contractors to civil servants at Goddard (i.e., when compared with all other NASA sites in the science arena). If we are to make headway in streamlining, Goddard must be subject to close scrutiny to evaluate the necessity for not only the science support contractors but an equally large number of non-science support contractors within the science divisions. We therefore advocate a thorough review, conducted by Goddard with oversight from HQ, of the support contractor workforce in the two science divisions, Codes 600 and 900. We need to know in depth what these personnel contribute to the NASA science enterprises that could not logically be purchased externally by an offsite contractor or university.

We note, in particular, that a large number of support contractors (more than 60% in Code 600) work on data preparation and dissemination or data archiving activities. This area may be particularly ripe for transferring elsewhere, either to software industries or even a consortium of interested universities. We propose as a model that all data archiving, dissemination, and distribution activity in the research domain be targeted for external transfer. We recognize, of course, that there may be no uniform solution for every activity because of the different scope, special requirements, and constraints of international and commercial agreements of different activities. An underlying principle is that the government should retain ownership of the data and should decide the policies under which it is distributed.

We propose, in addition, that NASA go out with an NRA for competing the many of the other science support functions at Goddard; Goddard could be expected to be a competitor in responding to the NRA.

The other major area for streamlining in science is in the area of management that provides an oversight function. We have little optics into the extent of this, but we suspect from the science crosscut deployment, which separately evaluated the management component, that it may be substantial. We have recent examples (e.g., the FUSE mission) to suggest that costs can be greatly reduced when the management for the spacecraft development is contracted outside NASA. We have to ask why it costs so much to develop spacecraft at Goddard. Are there excessive layers of management? Do they add value? We recommend that the Goddard science management process be thoroughly reviewed by Goddard itself, reporting to Code H. In an era when science proposals are being evaluated for total value, which mean as much for cost and for scientific return, Goddard may be losing its ability to be competitive. Streamlining the management process, as well as the use of support contractors, are vital to achieve competitiveness. We note, of course, that with streamlined management comes increased exposure to risk. While increased risk tolerance is implicitly acknowledged under the NASA principle of increased contractor accountability, it must be openly embraced by NASA and its customers.


Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The first sentence of the White Paper with respect to JPL, which reads "Jet Propulsion Laboratory is responsible for basic space science," should read "The jet Propulsion Laboratory has primary responsibility for planetary science and exploration, with significant contributing roles in other space and earth sciences." Space science includes astrophysics, planetary physics, and space physics, in addition to planetary science. The science crosscut reveals that by far the largest number of astrophysicists and space physicists are at Goddard, followed by Marshall, because those institutions have built or had oversight for the largest number of astrophysics and space physics missions. The next sentence that says that JPL has an earth science payloads capability "in support of Goddard" should read "in support of Mission to Planet Earth."

The intention of the White Paper that JPL should not "manage" the Deep Space Network is unclear. The DSN stations themselves are managed under three separate contracts, and it is therefore appropriate that these contracts be "administered" elsewhere. JPL should manage the communications and data handling for Deep Space missions for the same reason that TDRSS should be transferred to Johnson, i.e., to insure the best quality by involving the customer directly.

There are small but important OLMSA activities at JPL in Low-temperature physics and in development of advanced sensors and other technologies for life support systems. No other Center is prepared to assume these activities if JPL cannot. These activities are possible because of JPL's very large investment in technology in support of NASA's space science missions.

Johnson Space Center

Johnson Center should not manage all the life science program; it has little external or internal (other NASA Center) support for so doing. In fact, there is a clash of cultures between the science and operational/functional environment of Johnson. This is compounded by the confusion of priorities with the aerospace medicine enterprise. As an example: The Flight Surgeon's clinic was counted by Johnson as a science asset. This is symptomatic of the lack of clarity at Johnson in distinguishing its clinical care role from its scientific role. JSC should focus its activities on mission-oriented research aimed at establishing requirements that support clinical research during space flight and provide care and medical followup to astronauts, rather than managing basic biomedical or biological research programs. JSC should collaborate and facilitate the accomplishments of basic biomedical research. it should evaluate the importance of these activities for facilitating the health and performance of humans in space. These activities are required of NASA by the Space Act.

The NASA life science effort could be managed by either Marshall (together with the microgravity science effort), by Ames, which could continue to manage animal research (because of the necessity of keeping the centrifuge effort going at least until the Space Station's Centrifuge is installed), or through a transfer to LPI, which would become a multidisciplinary science center on the externally-governed IGPP model that we proposed for Ames (see more below). This option would have to be studied to assure its compatibility with the organization of the Space Station Institute of Engineering, Technology and Science Research.

Johnson should maintain the lead for NASA's Advanced Life Support Activities and Radiation Research.

As can be seen from the science crosscut, Johnson has a larger planetary science effort than either JPL or Ames. This a vigorous, quality research effort, which draws much from the proximity of the human flight effort. We propose that this activity remain at Johnson, but that it be consolidated into the Lunar and Planetary Institute. In addition, we propose that the charter of LPI be broadened (and the Institute possibly renamed and recompeted) to include the significant and important Johnson Earth science effort that informs astronauts of what they'll be flying over, and the Johnson life science effort. We envision the IGPP-like model that we proposed for Ames, managed by an external entity (USRA or university, perhaps even IGPP itself), and externally peer-reviewed periodically for quality. This Institute, whatever form it takes, could focus on the exploration and development of the solar system, integrating human and robotic elements. It would be important to examine whether it could fulfill the role as a Space Station Institute for Engineering, Technology, and Science. The result could be an immensely productive union of the traditional Space Sciences with the Human Exploration and Development Enterprise. This would strengthen the multidisciplinary approach that both the Foster Committee and the NASA Advisory Council recommended.


Kennedy Space Center

The science crosscut shows that the life science researchers on advanced life support at Kennedy are mostly contractors. They lead a small, but distinguished effort. We concur that, in the interests of focusing and streamlining, these contractors could be moved to a university site near Kennedy or Johnson. This effort could be housed under the LPI umbrella institute proposed above. The future focus of this group should be reviewed, i.e., whether the focus should be on plant gravitational biology or the development of advanced biological systems to support closed regenerative life support systems.

Neither the medical facility nor the ecology effort should be closed at Kennedy,

Langley Research Center

We apply the justification given earlier under General Remarks and the particular comments for Ames to Langley. The combined science and aeronautics effort fulfills NASA's mandate to provide knowledge of phenomena in both Air and Space. Langley has a singular but impressive Atmospheric Science effort, which scores first in a metric that calculates scientific productivity by dividing citations by publications (for the atmospheric sciences). Its scientific strength differs from and is a complement to the Atmospheric Science effort at Goddard. Langley's focus is in the global earth radiation budget and chemistry of the troposphere, while Goddard's focus is on physical climate science, which integrates atmospheric, hydrospheric, and land sciences. We believe that the synergy between the people building or researching the aircraft systems at Langley and the onsite scientists is a very productive one for both aeronautics and atmospheric chemistry. It is a unique environment, one that Goddard, given its non-aeronautics focus, cannot provide.

Langley provides critical support to microgravity research by allowing the microgravity discipline to purchase systems engineering support on an as-needed basis; it is also responsible for the only in-house radiation research that supports life sciences at NASA. The radiation activity might be moved to JSC, but a cost-benefit analysis would have to be done to insure this is practicable.


Lewis Research Center

LeRC has an excellent microgravity science capability which embraces two of the four science disciplines within NASA's Microgravity Science Research Program, namely fluid physics and combustion science. [Marshall scientists lead very different aspects of microgravity research; see below.] It is appropriate to continue these microgravity activities at Lewis, but it would be a real cultural change to adopt a new host of microgravity activities and service the guest investigators with very different needs (e.g. protein crystal growth scientists). It would be very expensive to move all of Marshall's microgravity effort to Lewis, but a cost analysis (by Marshall and Lewis) should be done. The microgravity effort at Johnson is in biotechnology; this could in principle be moved to Lewis but the people who want to utilize this capability are at medical centers near Johnson. If biotechnology remains at the Houston Center, it should be considered for incorporation into an institute external to JSC.


Marshall Space Flight Center

It may not make sense to build or contract out a new institute to control AXAF operations when operational capability already exists at Goddard and JPL. The AXAF operations should move in the same direction (stay in or contract out) as the present operations at those institutions.

We felt that the overall science effort (with the exceptions of selected areas in, e.g., protein crystal growth, astrophysics mirror technology, and gamma-ray data analysis) is not at the same high standard as the overall science effort at Ames. Perhaps this is because Ames has the proximity of high-quality institutions with interests in the Ames science program. We felt that Marshall's science efforts could be embraced in an extension of its DAAC (after the externally-governed IGPP model proposed for Ames and Johnson) and Marshall be given the challenge to put forth a five year plan to improve its quality dramatically. We think investing in Marshall makes sense because it is in one of the fastest growing science/technology communities in the country and the relationship between Marshall and its nearby community is strong.

We agree that it does not make sense to have separate space science spacecraft and instrument development at Marshall or Ames.

MSFC provides microgravity science research support to two of the four science disciplines with NASA's Microgravity Science Research Program, namely biotechnology (protein crystal growth) and materials science. Moving Marshall's microgravity effort to LeRC may be unwise given the maturity of the capital investment, the cost of relocation, and the presence of MSFC's biotechnology in-house capability, which is recognized as world-class and the focus of significant commercial pharmaceutical company support. The development of the initial Space Station furnaces must remain at Marshall through, at least, the installation of the Space Station Furnace Facility (SSFF) on the Station so as not to delay the current manifest for deployment of these facilities.

The AXAF development and GRO analysis must be continued to conclusion at Marshall.

Stennis Space Center

The science efforts at Stennis constitute a multi-agency federally-funded science center that pursues research related to Mission to Planet Earth. The science connections to the goals of MTPE are weak, however, and the effort should be viewed largely as a commercial venture with a new way of doing business. Rather than shutting down this effort, as it represents little money and the potential of significant commercial payoffs, we recommend considering its transfer to a local university or business.

  • submit to reddit


Loading



ICES 2020, July 12-16, 2020 in Lisbon, Portugal




Join our mailing list




Monthly Archives

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on March 7, 1995 12:53 PM.

Transcript of Remarks by House Speaker Newt Gingrich: Space Policy for the 21st Century was the previous entry in this blog.

NASA Staff Meeting Minutes 14 March 1995 is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.